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Crematorium operators Westerleigh Group’s plans for a new facility aim to ensure funeral corteges do not have to take more than 30 minutes to reach their final destination.
And they say their plans for East Lothian will mean grieving families no longer face the “unacceptable” delays which can be caused travelling to Edinburgh in congested traffic – often affected by roadworks which cut the number of lanes available.
The facility will open during normal business hours but will have the flexibility and capacity to cope with additional demand when deaths spike during Winter flu outbreaks or the current Covid-19 pandemic.
In their statement supporting the county’s need for the facility the group said: “Local residents are required to travel into Edinburgh using the congested road network in order to attend funeral services of their loved ones.
“Such unpredictable journeys, on what is already a stressful day, are unacceptable.
“A new crematorium in this location will serve c.146,000 people as their closest crematorium and give c.446,000 the choice of a new, modern crematorium within a 30-minute funeral cortège drive time.
“Residents of East Lothian and the surrounding communities would benefit from a modern facility that is closer to their doorsteps.”
Planners have recommended the crematorium plans for the site, which is to the north of Old Craighall village, are approved when they go before councillors for further scrutiny next week.
In their report to elected members planners said: “The applicant advises that office and cremation hours would be 8am to 6pm but informs that cremations can sometimes go over 18:00 hours in busy periods, for instance a cold winter or a pandemic, when deaths are higher.
“An ornamental garden, memorial garden and ‘parkland’ feature would be formed around the crematorium building with paths through them.
“Woodland tree and hedgerow planting is proposed to be undertaken around the perimeter of the site and within the site itself would be tree and hedge planting and areas of amenity grasslands.”
Scotland has the lowest rate of cremations in the UK with an estimated 69 percent of funerals cremations however Westlerigh Group suggests this is down to a lack of facilities rather than choice.
And the company says it is accepted in the industry that the average cortège time for a funeral from the deceased person’s home to service should be no more than 30 minutes.
Westerleigh Group says there are on average around 1,000 deaths in East Lothian every year.
In their case for the new facility they said:
“All residents of East Lothian Council currently have to travel out of district, and the majority have to travel into Edinburgh for their nearest crematorium.
“This often involves having to endure significant delays to their journeys due to traffic build up on the City Bypass. the A1 and/or local road networks into Edinburgh.
“This causes the bereaved additional stress and a very poor qualitative experience.”
The committee will discuss the plans at a virtual meeting next week.